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United States 22, Guantanamo 14, Us 10, Andy Worthington 9, U.s. 8, Geneva 8, Obama Administration 6, Obama 5, America 4, Morris Davis 4, Yemen 4, Afghanistan 4, New York 2, Washington 2, Pakistan 2, George Bush 2, Davis 2, Bush 2, Priority 2, Cuba 2,
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  CSPAN    C-SPAN2 Weekend    News/Business. News.  

    January 12, 2013
    7:00 - 8:00am EST  

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do we essentially go home and say to them you can't because you are from yemen and all people from yemen are terrorists. it is a horrible message to send the people of human. and completely unjustified. the other issue is there are mostly from countries where it is not safe for them to be returned because the government will treat them as badly as the united states treats them or worse. there are still a few prisoners in guantanamo, the weakest from china, the chinese government. there are some in guantanamo cleared for release. and still held. i don't actually understand why they are still held. they were under the dictator ben all the who has been disposed. one issue needs to be looked at this why specific people are held, and one that many of us
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have been campaigning on for many years is the last british resident in guantanamo and the united states government has clearly said they want to release him. he is on a list of 65 who need to be released in september but the first time the united states government said the names and identities of 65 of these agencies. we have it printed, the united states government -- we have from the british government the statements over the years they want to be reunited for four british children and those of us who have been studying this thing is is because he knows too much. use a very eloquent man and fight for the rights of prisoners and knows the stories of guantanamo and the business in afghanistan, maybe stories
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none of us have ever heard. he will be an embarrassment to the government if he is ever released. he is part of this situation where we reach the point where he is a good example of how neither government wants action, it will be embarrassing. let's delay. why do they delay? because nobody cares. it is the reason president obama has been able to punch his responsibility and blame congress. the only message i come leave you with is yet again to how i started, is it acceptable to clear people for release and don't release them? we can push on that one and make that the biggest message for the administration, it and congress and when we meet again in a year
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we will have some progress so thank you. [applause] >> i am going to stand up and talk because it makes me feel taller and seek more people. i had no idea what i was going to say because i had to be inspired by a moat and andy worthington, with come again and nothing happens and it is so depressing. i am actually now i realize this is an opportunity because guantanamo is off the map. used to be the day we first took this on where we could do interviews and people would interview, now you can't even get a story in the newspaper about guantanamo. this is an opportunity to talk about it again and icy c-span is here so let me say something and it is going to be with you all said. first of all i think it should
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be clear to everyone, not only people in this room, guantanamo is wrong. it started out wrong, an excuse to escape the law. the theory of the george bush's administration is to keep foreigners outside foreign territory did not give tomb -- need to give them legal rights. it is and offensive concept you can escape the law by keeping people in guantanamo. the government still argues that foremost rights except the right to habeas corpus and that has been gutted by the interpretation of the d.c. circuit, the most conservative circuit in the country. the d.c. circuit's interpretation of what habeas means would have allowed nazi germany to hold people in concentration camps because any of them presented by the government must be accepted. it is -- guantanamo is fundamentally wrong for the reason andy worthington said. of 150 people there, 86 have
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been cleared for release by an interagency task force of the most conservative security experts. we are holding people we say we shouldn't hold. that is crazy. we say we should hold them because it is politically inconvenient to let them go. it is wrong. absolutely wrong, guantanamo is. secondly, over christmas i was away and have to be at a dinner and a young girl was there, her thirteenth birthday, and tom was the lead warrior in the guantanamo case before the supreme court and she said a friend's school in new york, what is guantanamo? she didn't know what to guantanamo was. it was more important that it had become the new normal. guantanamo was not something on
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her radar screen. she knew about gun violence. she knew about trafficking of women, she knew about other issues. she even used some things about the fiscal cliff and the economy but she didn't know about guantanamo. it disappeared. i am not going to say anything much more relevant. we can answer questions but when you have something, people say guantanamo continues to hurt us around the world. i asked peter is it still an issue in the middle east? it is still an issue that makes people in the great debate after the arabs spring between muslim moderates and extremists that makes a difference in fat, that influences people and the way they think about united states. it is still on the list of reasons people become extremists, reasons recruiting tool for terrorism, it hurts us
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that way. it is not us. trafficking, we want to fight trafficking. it is a terrible thing. that is not u.s. policy. this is u.s. policy. this defines who we are. it is that stain on our reputation. i want to finish with what andy worthington said. i don't know whether people here have watched the movie lincoln, but it really is a story of how abraham lincoln pushed through an amendment to the constitution to free the slaves and when you look at it, that wasn't something, there were a lot of other issues around that he could have avoided that issue to bring the state's back together for economic reasons, stop killing to end work, lots of other issues and people were saying why does this matter to him? he forced it through, a moral
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issue defining what the country was going to be, what was going to be about. there are a lot of inconveniences, yemen or other things, to close in guantanamo. political inconveniences and opposition from right-wing republicans but these are things that can be done, that can be worked if the president has a commitment to close guantanamo. there has been nobody defined in the white house since greg craig left four years ago to pose guantanamo. this is a priority. looking at c-span, mr. president, this is your legacy. if you don't close it it will be on your historic watch that it wasn't closed. you have got to take charge of this and get this place closed. that is it. [applause]
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>> thank you wall for your very persuasive and interesting presentations. before we open up to q&a with the audience i want to ask you some questions. i want to begin on a personal note because in a sense, this has been very much a part of your lives and starting with colonel davis and then andy worthington, what prompted you, you are chief military prosecutor. why are you -- why have you moved to the vision you now hold having that position in 2007, and andy worthington, how did you get involved in this issue given that you are a journalist doing many other things before this? similarly thomas wilner, you are with the leading law firm in washington, this is not a popular cause with your fellow partners. that is my intuition. why did you get into it and give us a sense of the timing.
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>> my first involvement was back in 2005 when i became chief prosecutor. i came into the job that summer believing what i think most of the public did. i was told by my government these men were the worst of the worst, the kind of people that would shoe through hydraulic lines on an airplane flying to guantanamo just to kill americans and i believed that. i got there and i began to look into some of these cases. i don't want to make light of it. some of the people at guantanamo really are the worst of the worst but for every one of those, there were some factor of others, 779 people detained at guantanamo, that were the worst of the worst, once you get rid of the 80 some we want to get rid of now, if you look at the one the government intends to prosecute, about 30 people total, 779, less than 5% of the
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people we were told were the worst of the worst that we even feel we can charge with a crime. during my tenure i felt the government was really committed to trying to have a fair process in the military commissions. the country has a romanticized notions of nuremberg. i think nuremberg was a significant accomplishment in its time but time has marched on and the law has progressed. i had hoped what we did at guantanamo, the military commission our grandkids would look on the way we look on our members as having been an achievement and not a detriment. to the end of my tenure, there were new officials in the chain of command, my policy had been we wouldn't use any evidence obtained by torture or the enhanced interrogation techniques and suddenly i had people over me who said president bush said we don't torture. who are you to say we do?
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all the evidence we are not using take it and get these guys convicted and at the shell on the road. when i joined the military, i believe very strongly in our country and our constitution and our principles and values. president obama when he accepted the nobel peace prize said do the right thing not when it is easy but when it is hard that makes us who we claim that we are and the last 10 or 11 years we have not been a land of the free and home of the brave but the constrained and the cowardly because we have been living in fear and letting the government run roughshod, take our liberty, give us some security. we will tolerate what ever. my commitment when i joined the military was i wanted to defend the country and maintain our values and our principles and i think the state we have been in
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for the last post 9/11 era is contrary to what america is all about. what made as different was our belief in the law. we chose guantanamo because we thought it was outside the law. this process in order to avoid the law. the reason -- i have gotten fired from jobs and ostracized, it certainly not a career path i recommend to my law students. at the end of the day you have got to believe in something and you have to be willing to stand up for it because the public is largely tuned out on these issues and i am going to make it as uncomfortable as i can by continuing to remind them. i appreciate opportunities like this and appreciate people interested enough to come out on
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a dreary friday and listen and i hope you will talk to your friends and neighbors and maybe we can reverse course on what we have done last 11 years. [applause] >> like many foreigners, on january 11, 2002, when donald rumsfeld gave permission for photographs to be taken by soldiers of these men with their eyes and years covered kneeling in the caribbean sun, shackled, they didn't look to me like any recognizable form of the tension that was internationally acceptable. i realize the color orange that was prevalent at the time was more familiar to americans, many domestic, i didn't know that at the beginning.
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that sent out a very damaging message that the conservative daily mail in britain was torture from the very beginning. in britain, we then realized as time went on, the information came out with total locked down for the first two years. it was totally closed, the bush administration could and did do anything they wanted. you had no rights whatsoever. stories started to come from british prisoners when they were released in particular, they spoke eloquently, i got more interested and already began full-time working on this about seven years ago. was particularly motivated me was partly the united states that has such a prominent place in the world and was fairly
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openly declaring to the world existence -- did not want to know anything about it, how it worked. what they were doing was so fundamentally wrong, i haven't changed my mind about that. if you deprive people of their liberty and claim there are two ways to do that. and accuse them of criminal things. in a shorter time, put them on trial and sent to prison. the only other way to deprive people of their liberty is to catch them in a military campaign and imprison them with protection of the geneva convention until the end of hostilities. neither of those happened. these men were held without rights for 2-1/2 years and the
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supreme court said these men have no address if they claim they were captured by the states they have to have the right to do this and this is the method that it should be. the others thing that happened is between the seventh of february 2002 when president bush issued an executive order claiming the geneva convention didn't apply until june of 2006 when in hampton vs. rumsfeld the supreme court said any prisoner you are holding has minimum protection of article iii of the geneva convention which guarantees you cannot be tortured or abused. between those two dates the united states was happily torturing people because it claimed they didn't have rights. the very fundamental issues that drew me into this and keep me involved and all along the way what happened was i happened to
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be in place, had the ability to be there when a huge amount of information was released through the freedom of information lawsuit by the pentagon in 2006 with names and nationalities of prisoners, at 8,000 pages of allegations and transcripts of the tribunals and review boards in guantanamo began this process of finding out who they were. and starting to tell their stories and tell the world i discovered in my research these guys were not the worst of the worst but through analyzing where and when they were captured and what was going on to realize most of them came to guantanamo, nothing was known about them. almost nothing was known about them and i have come to realize more and more as time goes on that they knew nothing about these people and had to build up a story and they did this
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weather through torture or bribing prisoners, pushing people until they said i can't take this anymore. what do you want to hear? i will tell you a story. reports to be the evidence against the prisoners is mostly statements that were made by their fellow prisoners either in guantanamo or -- most of it is -- allegations were made by quite a small number of prisoners. when you are subjected to any analysis whatsoever, any kind of objective analysis whatsoever, it falls apart. people claiming people -- whole thing is a house of cards based on false statements extracted, cowher simply in most cases, in some cases by bribing prisoners. the whole family is hollow and
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disgusting. that is why i got involved and i am still here trying to push these issues because everywhere you look at this story the kind of injustice that has taken place is horrible. it is not an indictment of the american people that this happened. is an indictment of the american people that crimes that are still going on, because the conscience of a nation should be at play. small number of people, it shouldn't matter how people are treated individually but it is not just these individuals at guantanamo, the principles that are at stake here, we have been in a troubling place for 11 years and this does become the new normal. in four years president obama leaves office and nothing happens and it remains open forever, that is such a profound stain on america's character.
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i hope you realize the implications. [applause] >> this is not fair to complement andy worthington but i want to pay a compliment to morris davis because he really represents the very best of the military tradition in this country. since i have been involved in guantanamo since the beginning a lot of people who stood up for the american principles are the military guys and they were overridden by the civilians. what you said, standing for the principles of the united states, the best tradition, i have the utmost respect for you. from my own personal story, i am a little jewish kid whose grandfather came from russia in 1880 something. one doesn't know whether the stories of your family are true
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but we believe them. my great grandfather was a famous rabbi in the 1870s. the declaration of independence and the gettysburg address, he said if there really is such a country i want my children growing up there. my grandfather and his three brothers came to the united states. my grandfather more than any religion, my grandfather would recite the declaration of independence, the preamble and the gettysburg address to his kids and we came to believe those things as the most important thing, believed in the principles of the united states, justice and the rule of law. i believed what ronald reagan said. much more than welfare or power, values are the greatest strength in the world.
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i do believe morris davis and andy worthington said, they matter when they are tested, you got to do it and i also believe, i might screwed up, dante's saying that the worst places in hell are reserved for those who stand silent in the case of injustice. [applause] >> open it up to questions if you could identify yourself and ask a question and wait for the microphone. >> you spoke a little bit about roadblocks from congress. can anyone in the panel talk about specific ones that were just renewed or past and what impact that will have? >> we were talking before we came in. this is becoming a new year's
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eve tradition. congress passes the national defense authorization act, the last couple years they included language that prohibits using any of the funds that are appropriated in that massive bill to bring anyone from guantanamo to the u.s. and anyone being transferred out of guantanamo they have to do a certification to congress and notice of the reasons for the transfer of. this is two years and a row the president said he would veto the bill with past and on new year's eve, the switch will drop first, the ball in times square or obama's veto threat? two years of the inner row the president backed down. some people say he is a pragmatist and another key word i would use to describe what he has done by not standing up and keeping his word and restoring our reputation. he says all right things about the rule of law and values and
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principles but he fails to live up to his word so congress has made it difficult but the same critics are the ones who said the president bush or anyone who tried to interfere with his exercise of unilateral executive discretion was unconstitutional to infringe on that power are the same people that are trying to handcuff president obama in exercising those same powers and making it difficult. it takes the president as commander-in-chief using the bully pulpit as he has done on the fiscal cliff and with gun-control and other issues where he has stood up and taken the fight to the other side. he hasn't done that on these national security issues. he let the other side carry the narrative. >> if i am correct he issued a signing statement meaning he
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reserves the right to ignore that particular provision of the act. >> correct. he was always very critical of president bush when president bush used signing statement. now he is using signing statements to do what president bush did. at the end of the day he signed the bill that says you can't bring that detainee from guantanamo to the u.s. or transfer them without notifying congress in advance. >> most people in the country believe guantanamo is full of terrorists. the word has not gotten out who they are. in that context there are a number of members of congress who played to that fear and hysteria by saying we're going to stand up and protect our constituents and won't let them in the united states or somewhere else. so the way to oppose it, you have to oppose it by saying there are wrong, you can't just say i will veto the bill.
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you need to work earlier and take it on. when you are fighting over the fiscal cliff and other things, the administration does not want to take on, the democratic party does not want to take on and republican party does not want to take on. the restrictions are in there. it needs to be a long-term plan of how you stop them from being there, how you work this out. >> question for any of you. the 86 people who exist are a little more detail about who advocated for the releases. it was run by matthew olsen, the national center, a long-term doj lawyer. who else was involved in that process? how careful was the process? >> the process after obama was selected was really you have these people in guantanamo when people were -- they didn't even know who they were. they didn't have files on them.
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files were scattered all over. what the obama administration said correctly is let's collect the file together and put together a passport and review them to see who these people are. the task force was put together, then it got screwed up to start with because it took forever to put it up and it included every agency. match olsen was appointed director, lisa monaco was deputy assistant attorney general for what is it? counterterrorism. was his deputy. they had representatives from every agency from the cia defense intelligence agency, defense department. a very conservative, very conservative agency and there had to be unanimous opinion to clear anyone for release. they had -- all the agencies had to agree this person is not a
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threat to the united states and not of intelligence value. was extraordinarily careful, lugubrious, long process. many people who were not cleared have nothing on them but they couldn't come to unanimous agreement. very conservative people should be released. >> given the fact that yemen -- the kind of counterpoint to what was discussed is as you know the yemen prison system has been senior members of al qaeda escape not once but twice from yemeni prisons. is the fix simply a better yemeni prison. what is the fix that would make these people who are yemeni or cleared for release, how would this work? >> there are 30 even prisoners in the united states government doesn't want to release. when the decisions were made by
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the task force, less than 30, up the trial, recommended for trial, some were recommended for investment, detention without charge or trial because the government said there too dangerous to release and didn't have sufficient evidence to put the months while. and the category i have issues with it is important we rain focused on the prisoners who are cleared. very sober officials recommend approving prisoners for transfer out of guantanamo. surely all that is required is the most minimal kind of supervision. it is not the suggestion that they should go from one prison to another but that they should be released. i think primarily lawyers are involved and there is some concern. it isn't just reasons of security that they approve people for transfer rather than staying clear. let them go free. lawyers are saying don't ever
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admit any responsibility for this, then we will get sued. these people are not dangerous. when you ask that question, i am having to calibrate their dangerousness. the task force would not have approved them to go if we were not talking about people -- >> what is the stumbling block on the yemenis in particular? >> two stumbling blocks. the fear is yemen is unstable. more political summoning. if you release them -- let me stand back. morris davis is right. other than the 15 to 20 people who may be dangerous these other people are not. even if they fought against us in afghanistan, they are nothing. they are really not dangerous people the, these other people. they are basically nothing
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people. what is the stumbling block? the fear is the yemen is unstable, one of these people can get out. republicans in congress will give them hell and use it as political -- one of the reasons some of these people could be released in the united states if congress were not yelling and saying they are dangerous, don't sweat and year our children. they have said that. people -- innocent -- everyone says these are innocent people. congress won't let them into the united states. the stumbling block is yemen is unstable, we don't want people in the united states, if we don't let them in the united states we go to other countries and say if you don't take them and why should we take them in? it is a stepping stone system. >> when more people care and there was more criticism because it was president bush, and it
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percolated through globally and even domestically that something was deeply wronged and there was a lot of criticism president bush was releasing prisoners. there wasn't the questions we have now from the point of view of seem to be deeply unfavorable to release anyone. the most massive case had to be made for the release of anybody so we ended up with an extraordinary situation where prisoners are held which is deeply unacceptable but with almost the to release an five years ago. we are not fundamentally talking about different people. around half of the prisoners were cleared for release under president bush but he wasn't releasing them at the time because many were yemeni and yemen has consistently been there. if your nationality is saudi it became easy to get out of
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guantanamo because the united states has a closer relationship with saudi arabia and the negotiations were undertaken by the manys have always -- it has really -- not acceptable that we have -- we can all agree there are a few dozen yemenis, these appear to be quite dangerous people so we will be careful with these and put most of the month trial. they cleared prisoners to end up being the same, being treated the same. that is wrong. we need to make the case that people who are pretty insignificant, don't worry about it. let's not frank of the hysteria or the fear because that is what is in happening. since president obama made his announcement, they didn't follow up, haven't taken the lead, we have had people filling that vacuum. the mission is stirring up fear
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and most for their political motives, not that they genuinely believe it. >> i think i mentioned since last year, and i was driving and i turned on the radio and there was a story about someone being imprisoned in cuba. it was unfair and i thought it was going to be a story about guantanamo ended with about alan gross, an american citizen in prison in cuba and our government is really good about -- american at the iranian -- we're going to put on trial in iran or the acres that were picked up or north korea, really good about how dare you hold an american citizen, and insisting, violation of the rule of law, you can't do this. yet we have got people that have spent more than a decade in
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prison because of their citizenship who did not commit a crime, they are not here to be punished, they are here because of their citizenship and i would imagine the public, the right wing airbags that are on radio and television would be pitching a fit if americans were being held because of their citizenship year after year after year in another country. yet we are supposed to be -- american exceptionalism creates an exception we can do things we condemn other forever doing. is fundamentally wrong. >> this gentleman here. wait for the microphone. >> i am eric was. i litigated the case on behalf of british detainee's, civil torture and religious abuse cases. i would like to ask you about next year, the withdrawal of all
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troops and the end of combat operations in afghanistan. what is your view on the basis of the law of war of continuing to hold without the tension or trial those people who are left at guantanamo? >> just to add to that it is an opportunity for congress to revisit authorization of the use of military force which most congresspeople when they voted didn't think we would ask for 12 or 13 years. is there any chance there might be a modified authorization once combat troops leave afghanistan? >> i think there is. the question is there is no authorization to hold people as morris davis and andy worthington said. you can arrest people for criminal charge or in a combat
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situation you can take troops up and hold them until the end of the battle and the purpose is not punishment but to keep them out of the battle. if the battle is over congress would have no right to even authorized it. that is going to be an argument and the argument for most of the people being held is we are in combat. the government will argue they were picked up in a continuing war on terror. this is technical. i don't think the hamdi authorizes people from authorizing the war on terror. that case was decided on american citizens but taking somebody up in the context of a particular, that that is going on, this is confusing for people but if the war is over and you can't hold people, purported prisoners-of-war. >> jay johnson who is general
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counsel of the department of defense who is going back into private practice, a person i have respect for. david talked in oxford in england recently, didn't go into great detail on this but suggested the same thing, that the war is winding down and when it does, the legal justification we have used to detain these people goes away when the war winds down. >> it would take away the justification for strikes outside war zones. >> there's another issue. >> what is the answer? >> i will let somebody else -- i have tried to keep the drones away from this issue. i am troubled by it.
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one isn't contingent on the other. i want to get guantanamo closed. >> we have two lawyers here, the use of military force, is that the underlying legal rationale for the use of roan strikes? >> no. >> two drug programs, the military program is a kill list that goes with that program based upon we are at war and can kill the enemy even if it seems unlawful when we come back. is much harder -- the authorization for the use of military force. >> i am not asking if it is legally kosher in your own mind, is that the legal basis under which the administration whether
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it is george bush or obama authorizes the use of cia drone strikes? >> don't know for sure because they won't tell us. in the aclu lawsuits trying to get no legal justification the government's argument is the government has never officially acknowledged we have a drug program. >> they have given interviews now. >> they never officially even though they talk about it and the -- they said the government never officially acknowledged we have a drone program but the argument ends like somalia and yemen and pakistan has been the consents of the government to hunt down bad guys and kill them to benefit us and them as well. i don't know that that is the legal rationale for those strikes. >> there is a distinction. i think the government can make
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a strong argument based on the commander in chief's power under the constitution that there's a right to protect action to protect the united states. is a slippery slope when you see how far it goes and that is independent of authorization of the use of military force. authorization, passage by congress of something of a rising it makes the power structure, justice jackson said when you have congress and the president to get rid is hard to do it but they can argue on the constitution. one of the differences is the right to the teen people is always something that has been covered aside from killing them, the right to detain people has always been something in the traditional branch covered by a judicial review in the law. you may have more right to use force than you do to detain
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people. >> the constitutional authority, those are great shields for a domestic criminal prosecution but the constitution can create international law. when we are killing people in yemen or pakistan or somalia or other foreign countries the constitution and whatever acts of congress have been passed are irrelevant. >> if the united states really does go to afghanistan bringing to an end the principle that you can have wartime detention, the problem we run up against his people be caned in wartime haven't been detained as they should be detained. we have sidestepped the geneva convention, the fact that they were supposed to be held.
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the geneva convention, the withdrawal of u.s. troops would definitely -- the problem is when the supreme court decisions were made, the judge echoed the geneva convention saying it also applies to the end of hostilities setting up a kind of parallel geneva convention based on the a usf which won't be given up slightly by people with power and responsibility for it. the nba a provision to try to expand what it covers so dozen narrowly cover the taliban but can be expended so the president decides is the enemy, very troubling. we're putting a position where we can argue but i don't think the last 11 years have shown there is lots of institutional push for the war to be endless. >> this gentleman over here.
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>> i have a question, may be hypothetical or theoretical. what would happen if president obama would decide tomorrow i closed down guantanamo? he is commander-in-chief. if he would do this what would happen? could congress block it? what would happen if he would make the decision tomorrow? >> there are practical problems with where people can go. it takes work to get it to empty the people of of guantanamo. you need to open it up so people can come to the united states,
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certain of them, and make it easier for them to go to a third country. it is a little bit like i go back to the lincoln thing. lincoln current just say i'm not going to allow slaves anymore. he needed to work for democratic political process. it is difficult. you couldn't do it tomorrow. there are a certain number of people who can't go back to syria or china, and others who can't go anywhere. they may need to be in the united states for a while. i think we can effectively challenge the attention of those people who are being illegally detained. there are kuwaitis who could go home so you need to work it but you need to be committed to getting them out. he hasn't done that.
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>> we have to define his those groups of people are and we have done some of that today. the people we talked about, there is one statement, palestinians at guantanamo. you can't return palestinians from guantanamo. those negotiations never went anywhere. all the other palestinians, there were a handful of them, resettled in other countries. this young man, he was almost taken in by the german government, they only took two in the end. he can't go anywhere until somebody offers him a new home but he is just one example. there are the yemenis and others and the rest of the prisoners. only those three groups for us to talk about. that is what we have to push when we are talking about it. >> do you look back at the memos that gave president bush the authority, justification to do what he did, does the
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commander-in-chief have limitless -- anything that will constrain the exercise of the authority as unconstitutional? the president has limitless power. if that was good advice back then the president as commander in chief could make the decision in that capacity. no money appropriated here in may be used -- the defense department appropriations. the president controls a lot of executive branch agencies with budgets and airplanes and the ability to arrange transportation. it would grow a big pair but if he ever did -- >> when the obama administration signed the order to close guantanamo within a year there was a plan. they were going to do this review process very conservatively. it took longer than it should have but they realized that in order to get third countries to
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take people from guantanamo we had to take some and there was a plan to put the weaker in northern virginia with the weaker community and these are totally innocent people and they were going to do it and a congressman found out and said you can't take these guantanamo terrorists to my country. >> frank well. >> obama -- the only thing, he notes the closing of guantanamo. dick cheney says it is a horrible idea. these are the worst of the worst. a statement that was palpably false because 40 of the people had been cleared by the bush administration. 40 more won habeas cases. jeter cheney was lying consciously or didn't know the facts. and he said the obama administration will take the money and that kept being repeat. frank wolf stood up and said don't do that and they backed down. the obama administration backed down. from that moment on congress if
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you can't take them. what he has got to do again this grow pair of big ones and push it, have to have a plan and work it. there are problems but it is doable and he has the power to do it. it will take a few months that he could do it. >> there is no political value in doing it. >> it has to be a moral imperative. his legacy. >> the lady here. >> where am i going? >> sorry. from the constitution project task force on detainee treatment. colonel davis mentioned in the new york times yesterday, wondering corollary off of the previous question, there are rightly or wrongly a number of
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individuals slated for indefinite detention and if they were brought here we could begin to argue against detention but the argument is the merging that if they were to be brought here, if guantanamo were to be closed they would likely be held in prisons where conditions would be much worse than at guantanamo. >> you mentioned the word likely, an argument in the newspaper, likely -- this is an confirmed that they would be held. what she has done with that very damaging out bed is made it look as if there was no argument to be had about what might happen if you were to proceed with a sensible argument that they need to be brought here for us to begin the process of genuinely closing guantanamo and they
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would have more rights. maybe it is likely but why not say we could argue about that? negotiations would take place about what conditions they would be held in. why would they be held when they are men who have never been charged or tried or convicted of anything? no direct correlation between the people in guantanamo and anybody held in any prison system in the united states? it would have to be negotiated. >> it is important -- first of all guantanamo is a supermax prison. people who say conditions are good are terrible. let me tell you why they are terrible. not only are they in supermax conditions but in a place where they are isolated and can't see their families. in a supermax prison in chicago or somewhere else people and --
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families get to visit. they haven't seen their families for 11 years. they can call once a month to talk back home. if they were in the united states they get to feed their families. there's another significant factor others don't realize. the reason i say you can challenge it here, when they're in guantanamo, probably shouldn't say this publicly because maybe people will realize it but guantanamo, they're within the jurisdiction of the d.c. circuit. the reason they can't challenge their detention is the d.c. circuit has adopted a rule which says you lose a habeas case of the government had any evidence against you that is credible. that is an absurd rule. if they were somewhere else they would be in a different circuit and you could challenge their detention, indefinite detention is not legal under u.s. law. there needs to be a basis for. if there is not a basis for other circuits might accept it.
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the other thing, let me say the other thing. andy worthington is right. year or two years ago when the obama administration said let's take these people to confidence i talked with the obama administration. we don't want these people to be in supermax conditions. they said we will agree to hold them consistent with the geneva convention where they are not held so it is all negotiable. people assume the worst. i frankly think the reason a lot of people assume they shouldn't come to the united states is there are some who benefit from guantanamo being open, goes, source of employment and give them their notoriety. but human-rights organization opposing it, reporting indefinite detention in the united states, wrong thinking, wrong headed thinking. >> this gentleman over a year. how do you feel about it?
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>> thank you. i am with washington research analysis. happy new year. i met you last year too. you mentioned the cost of detainee's. the cost -- not the dollar cost but the cost to the united states in terms of reputation and credibility of having guantanamo bay is probably much higher than a dollar cost. at the end of the presidential election, one of my friends in japan -- i am japanese too, wrote to me and said it is a pity that the american people have the choice, the better choice for the american people or the flunky such as president
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obama and the reason he said president obama is a low-key was because he could not deliver on a simple statement that he was going to close guantanamo bay. listening to you it is a little bit murky. i am not sure whether you are concerned about the civil-rights of the prisoners or fact that guantanamo bay itself is something that the u.s. should not be open, the german gentleman. my question is which is it? closing guantanamo bay or giving justice to the people and the 186 people or? when you going to backtrack everybody loses track of the issue. >> i don't understand the distinction. to give justice to people, it is done just to hold people indefinitely without hearings and guantanamo is as simple as that and you have to get them out and get them out of there.
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>> i don't want to get in an argument. >> you are right about the cost, not just economic costs that you put a dollar figure on but the cost to america, the intangible costs. we saw that not long ago. abu hamza who was extradited from the u.k. our closest ally in the war on terror made us promise that we would send him -- not send him to guantanamo or prosecute him in a military commission which is a statement about guantanamo and the military commissions that we have to promise our closest friend that we won't use it or they won't give him to us. >> two minutes left. anything anybody wants to say in closing? >> i want to repeat again that
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-- there are some people at guantanamo who should be punished and they should be tried accordingly and punished. that will be justice. for most people, justice will be releasing them and getting them home or getting them out of prison. guantanamo stands in the way of doing it because it is isolated, it is outside the normal u.s. court system and they do have it d.c. circuit. there are a lot of little practical problems. it is very easy -- there are political problems. my main point, this is your legacy. you can do it. get it done. make it a priority. work the problem and get it done. put someone in charge in the white house of doing it. put your own power behind it. there are lots of problems in this country from the fiscal
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cliff to the next thing and all this. this is the moral issue that defines our nation. will define your presidency. you will be to blame if this isn't done. get it done. >> very briefly, indefinite detention without trial is an abomination legally, morally and spiritually. detention without charge or trial is the reality, all the men held's guantanamo now and will be for the foreseeable future unless we can act on that and bury obviously begin by highlighting and acting on the most obvious injustice of clearing people for release and not releasing them and remember some of these men were literally eight years ago and that is unacceptable under any circumstances. >> i would say america is a beacon to the world and is a question whether is a warning light or a guiding light and we sh